The State of Play

Law, Games, and Virtual Worlds

304 pages

November, 2006

ISBN: 9780814799727

$27

Paper

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Authors

Jack M. Balkin is Knight Professor of Constitutional Law and the First Amendment at Yale Law School, and the Founder and Director of Yale’s Information Society Project. He is the author of numerous books and the editor of What Brown v. Board of Education Should Have Said (NYU Press, 2002). He lives in New Haven, CT.

All books by Jack Balkin

All books by Beth Simone Noveck

The State of Play presents an essential first step in understanding how new digital worlds will change the future of our universe. Millions of people around the world inhabit virtual words: multiplayer online games where characters live, love, buy, trade, cheat, steal, and have every possible kind of adventure. Far more complicated and sophisticated than early video games, people now spend countless hours in virtual universes like Second Life and Star Wars Galaxies not to shoot space invaders but to create new identities, fall in love, build cities, make rules, and break them.

As digital worlds become increasingly powerful and lifelike, people will employ them for countless real-world purposes, including commerce, education, medicine, law enforcement, and military training. Inevitably, real-world law will regulate them. But should virtual worlds be fully integrated into our real-world legal system or should they be treated as separate jurisdictions with their own forms of dispute resolution? What rules should govern virtual communities? Should the law step in to protect property rights when virtual items are destroyed or stolen?

These questions, and many more, are considered in The State of Play, where legal experts, game designers, and policymakers explore the boundaries of free speech, intellectual property, and creativity in virtual worlds. The essays explore both the emergence of law in multiplayer online games and how we can use virtual worlds to study real-world social interactions and test real-world laws.

Contributors: Jack M. Balkin, Richard A. Bartle, Yochai Benkler, Caroline Bradley, Edward Castronova, Susan P. Crawford, Julian Dibbell, A. Michael Froomkin, James Grimmelmann, David R. Johnson, Dan Hunter, Raph Koster, F. Gregory Lastowka, Beth Simone Noveck, Cory Ondrejka, Tracy Spaight, and Tal Zarsky.

Reviews

  • “This is a spectacular collection of essays on the present and future of virtual worlds. It's a perfect introduction for those who have yet to experience them, and more important, a thoughtful companion for those who do.”

    —Jonathan Zittrain, Oxford University

  • The State of Play is an extremely comprehensive look into digital worlds and how those worlds are evolving cultures, changing lives, reshaping the way we think and communicate. If you want to understand where modern culture is headed and learn more about incredibly fascinating experiences taking place in virtual worlds, pick up and read this book now.”

    —Richard Garriott, a.k.a. Lord British, Creator of Ultima Online and Executive Producer, NCsoft

  • “These essays, by the best thinkers in their fields, will be read, debated, taught, and cited in court cases as we struggle to figure out how to live in a world which is part digital and part social, part real and part imaginary.”

    —Henry Jenkins, author of Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide

  • “Is useful and interesting for students of surveillance.”

    Surveillance & Society

  • “With diverse essays from game designers, social scientists and legal scholars, The State of Play is a provocative consideration of virtual jurisprudence.”

    Paste Magazine